Why are Sofas drenched in Fire Retardant Chemicals?

According to recent findings in the US it may be that:

  • Chemicals that are used in household furnishings such as sofas and chairs to inhibit them from catching fire do not work.
  • Some fire retardant materials used over the years may pose serious health risks and have been linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility. Most modern household furniture is saturated in flame retardant chemicals which escape from the furniture and settle in dust. That’s particularly dangerous for toddlers, who play on the floor and put things in their mouths.

It would appear that our furniture first became full of flame retardants thanks to the tobacco industry.  A generation ago, tobacco companies were facing growing pressure to produce fire-safe cigarettes, as so many house fires started with smoldering cigarettes.  Flame retardant furniture, rather than safe cigarettes, was put forward as the best way to reduce house fires.  Cigarette lobbyists organized an advocacy group which succeeded in covertly manipulating bodies of fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders. to push for measures to be introduced.  The Citizens for Fire Safety group has only three members, which also happen to be the three major companies that manufacture flame retardants.  Surprised? Apparently a prominent burn doctor’s misleading testimony was part of a campaign of deception and distortion on the efficacy of these chemicals. The chemical industry “has disseminated misleading research findings so frequently that they essentially have been adopted as fact,” the authors wrote.

Organic Linen and Cotton Canvas for upholstery in four colours
Winthrop Organic Linen and Cotton Canvas for Upholstery in Four Colours, White, Grey and Delphinium and Sandwash Blue

So how do we create a more healthy home?  Fortunately companies like OEcotextiles are making it possible to furnish a home safely.  The new Two Sisters range of natural eco fabrics for soft furnishings is now available in the UK and can be found at www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk.  If you are thinking about recovering a sofa or some chairs and want to safeguard your family’s health and well-being, the organic linen and cotton canvas blend upholstery fabric is an exceptional quality weave with tightly twisted yarns that comes in a range of 17 colours, something to complement every design scheme.

For those with children and small babies concerned about chemicals in the home, you can read more here

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10 Reasons to Get Excited about Hemp

Have you ever had a favourite outfit that you loved so much you wore it to death and you have never been able to replace it?   Whatever happened to timeless elegance in the rush to conform to the High Street command of “get the latest look”?  How much money would we have left over for that holiday we have all been dreaming of if our clothes lasted more than one season?

Organic Hemp is now available in a range of beautiful colours

Well, hemp fabric could be the answer.

Here are 10 reasons why we should all get excited about hemp

  • Hemp is stronger than cotton.  It is the most durable natural fibre with the highest abrasion resistance and tensile strength amongst all of the natural fibres, providing maximum wear and use
  • It becomes softer with use.  The inherent lustre and light reflecting qualitites of hemp are enhanced by washing
  • The fabric breathes as well as linen and better than cotton, and is as effective an insulator as wool.  It feels cooler in summer and during cool weather it retains body heat
  • Hemp resists staining by releasing a microscopic layer of cells with each laundering, exposing a fresh surface.  In effect, this means that hemp retains its sleek sheen every time it is washed, that it never dulls and that it releases stains more easily than other fabrics.  It becomes finer and more luxurious with use.
  • It will not stretch out of shape, so it will always look good
  • The fabric is very porous, making it highly absorbent and quick drying.   Hemp absorbs more moisture than cotton and much more than synthetic fibres, and faster.
  • It is naturally resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria, and naturally mothproof, and has natural antimicrobial properties, so it does not need to be treated with chemicals and is therefore better for you and your family’s health and well-being
  • Hemp blocks UV rays more effectively than any other fabrics with less fibre degradation from UV exposure than any other natural fibre, making it especially good for window coverings and a wide range of eco soft-furnishings
  • With a longer lifespan than other natural fabrics, it can render a lifetime of service,  is biodegradable and easily recyclable and even more than any other eco fabrics lends itself to re-fashioning and upcyclling.

Wow!  And if  you thought that hemp fabric and eco textiles means a return to the dark ages and the days of sackcloth, look again.  With ever better production methods, fibres can be polished and finished to much higher standards than ever before, meaning that it is possible to be indulgent and kind to the environment at the same time.

Anything we’ve missed here?  We’d love to hear from you…….

Eco at Home

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Our home is an extension of our body, an outer shell.   How we furnish our home environment is as important as the quality of food that we eat and the quality of the air that we breathe.

You may be surprised to know that, in our ‘modern’ world it has become usual to preserve home furnishings in the same way as foods, as a means to improving wear or maintenance, texture or appearance.  Additives such as formaldehyde are used to make fabric ‘crease resistant’ or ‘easy-care’ and remnants of chemicals used in the dying process such a dioxins and even heavy metals are often present.  Even many so-called natural fabrics have been treated with potentially harmful chemicals, either during the growing cycle, to improve crop resistance and increase harvest, or as applied finishes.  These chemicals can pose a threat to human health and well-being.

Non-synthetic fibres such as cotton, linen wool, jute, sisal, coir, hemp, bamboo can be processed in ways that demand less treating although cotton is a very thirsty plant and does need large amounts of water to grow sucessfully.    These fabrics can also be coloured with natural dyes which have far less impact on the environment.  They are also biodegradable and can be recycled.   Hemp for example has a very long life, being very hard wearing, and its texture actually tends to improve with age.

For some examples of how to become more green and take the first steps towards using eco fabrics in the home, visit http://www.designercushionsandthrows.co.uk

Cushions in 'Hardy Organic Hemp' from the Emily Todhunter Collection at OEcotextiles
Cushions in 'Hardy Organic Hemp' from the Emily Todhunter Collection at OEcotextiles